Monthly Archives: June 2011

the outward charm…

I adore this house!

can’t you just imagine C.S. Lewis writing away, sipping his tea and reading, smoking a cigar, hosting friends, and imagining Narnia?

I picture a place of solace and rest, a retreat for the weary, the character of the house lending itself to the envisioned peace.

given the size of our town and my route to various places, this sweet cottage is a regular sighting, a continual dream running through my head.

they cannot be avoided. the house and the dreaming.

it is for sale. out of reach fiscally.

but daydreams are free.

there was an estate sale the other day, and while I am always up for a bargain, the house itself drew me. I suspect the same was true of most people that day!

stepping through the door, I expected the mustiness. by all appearances the house has been closed up for many months. but the dated decor was unexpected. the overwhelming need for updating screamed louder with each footfall. it started as a whisper, “please, help me…” the house begged. by the time the circuit of all three floors was complete, the cry for restoration was palatable. some features of the original house remained. others have been discarded along the way.

from the outside, images of C.S. Lewis dance. on the inside, the Brady Bunch.

over week later, I am still pondering the differences.

which leads me to Jesus’ words about whitewashed tombs (Matthew 23:27) and the state of my heart, self, masks we wear, and so much more.

so many analogies. so much conviction. where to start? for that matter, where to end?!

the recurring thoughts about this house and my heart have been about what is presented to the world versus the reality of the internal. the outward can easily show such a different picture than what is really happening. I continually ask if my heart is musty and stuck in a rut (or many ruts), if the expense of change is worth it. changes to the internal need exceptional care and a skilled hand. a qualified inspector can make all the difference, finding things the naked eye would miss.

and my heart cries, again and again, to allow only Jesus to be the one who works on my heart, the one to restore it to the original design. He is the architect, contractor, designer, and lover of my soul. with Him there are no mistakes in the blueprints, no unexpected mess.

alas, the final design will not be known in this life. the waiting here will be worth the turmoil and angst. this I know. I have seen the beauty of a soul, albeit the muted beauty of earth, and what He can do when given carte blanche. would that I could be as open to His craftsmanship! would that people see Him instead of me.

there was a grace-gift in being able to enter the house as well. the house itself is out of our reach. could we stretch and make the purchase? maybe. a big maybe. but after seeing the inside, the renovation and restoration needed, and factoring those costs, there is no way, beyond being gifted the house, that we could afford it. and that is good. someone new will move in and (hopefully) do the requisite work. having seen the inside, it remains a dream house for some imaginings. and a renewed sense of thankfulness for our own bungalow washes over me. God does His work in interesting ways, doesn’t He?

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my chief weakness…

I applied for a ministry position this week.

Aside from the usual resume and cover letter, there was also an application to fill out and return. Not a difficult application. But I stumbled through one question, thinking about it for days before putting pen to paper.

What is your chief weakness?

My immediate response startled me and I rebelled against it strongly. And rightly so. It is not a weakness and can actually be a strength for many. It is not a mistake to be corrected or something to apologize for.

I am an introvert.

I like alone. Quiet soothes me. Sometimes I need to talk to process, but mostly I write and think. Retreat is one of the most comfortable disciplines.

Being an introvert in ministry can be difficult. People are not like a business project. They cannot be checked off a to do list. Their lives cannot be contained in regular office hours. There are few neat little boxes to put ministry into and say the “job” is complete. Ministry is relationships, and that means people.Tasks are involved, to be sure. But the heart of ministry is people and their relationship with Christ.

Balance. I struggle to balance the needs of my family, ministry, and self.

Being an introvert is not my weakness. Balance is.

I have been in that place, that lonely place, where the body and heart and soul are worn to nothing. Burnout. It is not alone-ness. It is loneliness on many levels. We often liken burnout to frostbite when describing it. Once the damage has been done, that place is more sensitive. It needs more specialized care. Like a rubber band stretched to the almost-breaking point, there is a fear of being stretched that thin again.There is a remembrance of the pain. A fear of irreparable damage if it happens again.

Balance.

It swings both ways. Run too hard for too long and risk burnout. Or become almost reclusive and miss the ministry, the rich relationships before me, the lessons God wants to teach me and using others to do it.

What helps you maintain balance?

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days on the calendar…

It was one of those days. A date on the calendar. For most, just a date. For me, an anniversary. A painful one.

Dreams shattered.

Life swirling around despite it.

Holding to Jesus. Desperately clinging to Him.

A heart and body wounded, never to be the same.

New questions. A paradigm shift.

A fresh sensitivity inward. Someday to turn outward and hold others in a similar place.

We all have them. Quiet anniversaries. Sacred. Shared with few. Life hurts that remain quietly remembered.

Walking wounded all. Feeling so very alone.

And yet not. Others have tread these familiar paths, so new to us, so unreal.

Death of a loved one. Job loss. Diagnosis. Car accident. Miscarriage. Relationship destroyed. Betrayal. Devastating confession. And so many more.

It is good for me to remember dates like these. They remind me that we all carry heart hurts. And most often we do not know the significant dates on someone else’s calendar. They may need some extra grace, a smile, a kind word. Things that cost me so little time, such small effort. BeingĀ  Jesus’ hands and feet. Bringing some Barnabas encouragement.

More than just a date on the calendar…

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Filed under abiding, aches and lessons, being, complex, daughter-gift, life lesson, simple, spiritual formation